ASH Covid-19 unit faces closure over scarcity of funds

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A 100-bed Covid-19 Infectious Disease and Research Centre at the AbbasiShaheed Hospital (ASH) is feared to close its operation after less than a month it became functional as the local administration has failed to meet its financial commitment for the specialised unit of the third largest hospital of the city, officials and sources said. Fears ran high among family members of the patients, who were being treated at the hospital — six of whom were on ventilators battling for life against the pandemic — seeking support from the authorities so the unit could continue its operation which was mostly benefitting those living in low-income areas. Dozens of Covid-19 patients being treated at the facility were facing serious threat of discontinuation of the services amid growing financial crisis, they feared. “The Covid-19 Infectious Disease and Research Centre (IDRC) at the ASH was initially established in July 2020 and it took a month to upgrade the facility,” said a source privy to the details of the unit and current status of the affairs at the facility. “In August 2020 it was formally inaugurated by then mayor WasimAkhtar. And finally it became fully operational on Nov 24 after the Karachi administrator formally inaugurated the centre. Since then the patients are coming here daily and being admitted for free treatment. The centre has 75 staff members, including doctors and other health workers, serving round the clock.” There are 25 ventilators in the hospital, he said and added that the facility had also 50 beds with BiPap machines, which was considered one of the most crucial facilities for Covid-19. It offered support to those infected persons who had trouble breathing, as this machine could help pump air into their lungs, he said.